Drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres, Andrew Lockett has appeared in 78 games over the course of the last six seasons.
Even with his solid draft pedigree, Lockett has been consistently held back by a variety of injuries. Over his first four seasons in the Padres’ organization from 2012-2015, Lockett only threw 118 and a third innings in total. Sure, 2012 was only part of a season, but Lockett threw only 12 and two-thirds innings between 2013 and 2014.
Finger and shoulder injuries slowed Lockett’s progress through his first few seasons, but he did experience a turning point in 2015. The results were somewhat inconsistent for Lockett, but he did find himself on the field for nearly 100 innings and he was able to finish the season in A ball.
However, 2016 was the real breakout for Lockett, as he was not only finally healthy, but also finally up to speed. After kicking off the season with a strong 3.00 ERA and 29:8 K/BB ratio in 45 innings in A-ball, Lockett found even more success in High-A. In 66 and a third innings in High-A, Lockett accumulated a 2.98 ERA with a 56:12 K/BB ratio. Lockett then found himself moving up to Double-A, where he spun an ERA just over 2.00 in 34 and two-thirds innings before wrapping up the season with 18 Triple-A innings for good measure. Going into 2017, it looked like Lockett was finally putting it together and had a good chance to be the next pitcher the Padres called up to the big league level.
Prior to the start of the 2017 season, I had my money on Walker Lockett getting called up to make his big league debut before right-hander Dinelson Lamet. On May 25, I was proven wrong, as Lamet made his big league debut on the road against the New York Mets.
After getting off to a bit of a bumpy start with the El Paso Chihuahuas to start the season, Lockett once again found himself injured following his start on May 25 (Yeah it was really the same day that Lamet made his major league debut). Lockett wouldn’t make another start in the Padres’ system until August 18 due to a lingering back injury.
Lockett finished the year with four appearances, 10 innings pitched, in Arizona for the Padres’ Rookie League affiliate. During that time, Lockett gave up six earned runs and had a 12:4 K/BB ratio. Going into 2018, Lockett once again has some catching up to do. He certainly has proven that the skill is there, but he will have to stay healthy and regain his confidence to bounce back once again in 2018 and beyond.
2018 Projection and Long-Term Outlook
Looking to 2018, it’s nearly impossible for anybody to predict how Lockett will fare in his attempt to bounce back from yet another injury. Based on the fact that Lockett was able to show he was healthy at the end of last year in both the AZL and the AFL, he should be able to start the 2018 season back in the Chihuahuas’ rotation. Given his experience pitching at higher levels, Lockett may even be in line for a spring training invite. Although Lockett could still be in line for some big league action in 2018, there appears to be around 10 or so players ahead of him in the Padres’ rotation pecking order.
With that being said, if Lockett can maintain his health and continue to perform well in Triple-A at the beginning of the year, he should finally make his major league debut in San Diego in 2018. Beyond that, it would be anyone’s guess as to how Lockett fares long term. With lots of pitching starting to work its way to the top of the system, Lockett could find himself as the odd man out.